|The Celts were people that shared
enough cultural traits and some genetic peculiarities to make them a specific
culture, tribe, ethnicity or whatever you like to call it. They were about and
prominent from about 700 BC - 0 BC/AD. In their heydays they inhabited large
parts of Northern Europe and parts of Anatolia, see the map below. However, at
no point in time was there a "united" Celtic kingdom or, in other
words, there was no common politics or political unity. It is also important to
know that the public image of the Celts, and that includes the learned part of
the public, has not all that much to do with historic truth. Celtic history
became fashionable in the 19th century and still is in some parts of the world.
Some modern states or territories like France, Wales or Scotland claimed and
claim Celtic origin while others (like Nazi Germany) renounced it in favor of
Germanic roots. This had not much to do with historic truth as far as we know
it. Parts of South Germany, for example, were definitely core regions of the
Celts around 500 BC and later, while Southern Scotland, as far as we know, had
never been inhabited by Celtic speaking people.
The Celts were commonly associated with the so-called La Tène culture, thriving from about 500 BC (beginning of younger European iron age) to 100 BC in what is now Western Switzerland / Eastern France / South Germany. In a more modern view, however, their roots go back to the older Hallstatt culture (800 BC - 600 BC or Early European Iron Age).
|The following points may be usful in
defining Celtic identity:
|Here are some Celtic sculptures or self-portraits, usually found in connection with large graves. Compare to the Greek / Roman sculpture below. Those Celtic sculptures look to me like sculptures I might have made while trying to do something like those Greek masters. Of course, there is always the possibility that the Celtic artists would have been perfectly capable of producing "classical" sculptures but chose a more abstract and primitive style for reasons of their own.|
|The Celts had neighbors who gave them
names of their own:
|The early Hallstatt Celts burned
their dead and thus did not leave many traces. But around 600 BC inhumation
became popular. Important people were buried in large subterran rooms,
containing lots of treasure, and the burial place then was covered with an
artificial hill or mound that could assume momentous proportions. There were
very important people now because after 600 BC some Celtic tribes had erected
major cities, typically on top of hills,
from where large territories were ruled and intensive trade with other regions
was conducted. According to recent excavation results, these cities might have
had up to 10.000 inhabitants - making them to some of the biggest cities of
The Celts in what is now Austria, Southern Germany and France were essentially ready to evolve into a High Culture like the Greeks, Etruscians or - later - the Romans but somehow blew it. I blame it on the French.
One big Celtic "city" was right next to the town I grew up in, on the "Hohenasperg", a rather well visible "Berg" (= mountain or hill), see below. The so far biggest one, the "Heuneburg", is found about 100 km to the South. Their are plenty of tumuli in the general region. One of them, the "Kleinaspergle" (little Asperg) close to Hohenasperg was about the first to be investigated in 1877, and the central Stuttgart museum is full of Celtic artifacts.
|The Non-Celtic folks in Europe was likely to encounter Celts sooner or later between about 400 BC and 200 BC. These guys then moved around quite a bit, as the map below demonstrates.|
|Some of the more memorable business travels of
the Celts include:
The Celts certainly did get around. If they did that because they simply were blood-thirsty uncivilized barbarians, bent on robbing and pillaging, or because (known) climate changes forced them out of their more Northern habitats is an open question.
|After 200 BC their influence declined
and they were confined to their heartlands in France / South Germany. That's
encountered them in the first century BC; he has much to say about these
encounters in his "De Bello Gallico".
Caught between the Germanic tribes from the North-East and the Romans from the South, Celtic culture went down and disappeared, more or less by assimilation - except in the more remote corners of Europe like Ireland and Scotland.
10.5. Iron and Steel in "Modern" Europe. 10.5.1 From Bloomeries via Stückofen and Catalan Forge to the Blast Furnace
Discussion of the "Cut Sword" Findings
Part 1 Basics about Scythians and Their Akinakai
Critical Museum Guide: Landesmuseum Württemberg; Württemberg State Museum, Stuttgart, Germany
Museums in Rome
11.2.1 Background to Celtic Swords
11.2.3 Roman Swords
Sword Places: Luristan
The Frankish Empire And Its Swords
10.3 Iron and Steel in Early Europe; 10.3.1 Technology Transfer and Trading
10.3.2 The Iron Trade
11.1.4 Swords of Major Near East Powers in the 1st Millennium BC
10.5.4 Making Steel Things
First Iron Swords - First Iron Swords - Hallstatt Swords
Scythian Special Large Pictures
Old Sagas, Heroes and Swords
Early Iron Making Empires in the Middle East / Mediterranean
10.4. Crucible Steel 10.4.1 The Making of Crucible Steel in Antiquity
Sword Places: La Tène
The Luristan Project - Results from Cut Swords
The Luristan Project - Results from Cut Swords Part 2
The Luristan Project - Large Pictures of Cut Sword
Master of Animals Finials from Luristan
The Luristan Project - Literature Review
The Luristan Project - Results from Cut Swords
Master of Animals
Literature to "Scythian Special"
The Luristan Project - Results
Maps of Various Cultures
© H. Föll (Iron, Steel and Swords script)